A few weeks ago Alex called me – “Wanna go to Portland USGP?” – of course I did!
I barely have a job, and my bank account is diminishing since my high roller days in an office, but it doesn’t matter. When a buddy ask you to go race in Portland, you just have to make it work. The opportunity to race through the infamous mud and roaring crowds is something that a cyclocross racer cannot turn down.
We arrived in Portland Friday and stayed with an original Hungarian – Brentus Momentus. He hooked us up with his single speeds to race with so that we didn’t have to pay the exorbitant shipping fees for our own bikes. We went to the veloshop to build up the bikes. This is Molly Cameron’s shop so we got to drool over her indy fab bike with DI2. This was real Portland, and the reality that bike racing is a way of life here was quickly evident. The air stunk of embrocation. The sound of roller intervals filled the hallways. I am immediately intimidated – how are we going to size up to these die hards?
The Portland USGP is a two day event. Both days Alex and I woke up at six am so that we could ride to the course on time for his 8am start. The course was at the Portland International Speedway (PIR), which was about 5 miles from where we stayed.
The course was the craziest I have ever seen. Part of PIR is a motocross venue, which means that we were getting rad on those huge jumps you see on the X games. The event organizers had us tearing up and down these things in every direction imaginable. Going down at speed was scary because of the deep mud you hit at the bottom of every flat, going up was impossible because of the steep ankle deep mud. Check it:
Apparently this was dry for Portland. But unseasonably cold and windy made for a long day of being outside. Finishing the OVCX season with little no no mud, this was still a swamp fest through our eyes.
Single Speed Cyclocross in Portland is way different than in the ovcx series. Guys here live for sscx. Looking at everyones bikes at the line, I was shocked to see how many custom frames with carbon wheels I saw. I somehow landed a front row call up but knew that the 60+ people behind me were there for blood. In ovcx, I am usually 3-4 minutes behind the winner in the elite field, but here I was 6 minutes from winning, how fast is that?!
Despite our dusty midwest roots, We got RAD! Alex raced the Category four race with about 100 other guys and had two really good results. 11th on Saturday and 4th on Sunday. He crushed dudes on his single speed! I on the other hand had two OK results. 31st on Sunday and 22nd on Saturday. My goal was to break into the top twenty, but I was still happy with my result after I realized how effing fast single speed dudes are in Portland.
What a great way to end the 2010 racing season. Now for those lovely winter base miles.